One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the antipathy to competitive markets in some intellectual circles here in the UK. There's an insistence that such markets put the consumer at the mercy of the producer: or perhaps set off a "race to the bottom". That's when it's not simply an aristocratic disdain for that tacky bargaining that accompanies said markets.
The truth is of course entirely the other away around: it's the competitive part that puts the consumer in the position of power over the producer. As this fun little story shows. Those little price comparison sites are putting power into our hands all right: to the extent that at least one insurance company refuses to appear on any of them, fearful that we the consumers might actually be able to see whether some other is offering us a better deal.
And this is true of all companies all the time. They just hate competition and will, whenever possible, do their best to avoid facing any. The solution to which is not to regulate, not to licence and oversee, but to insist that there should be no such regulatory or licence barriers to the competition which puts the power where we want it to be, in the pockets of the people.
Exactly where, as Adam Smith said about money itself, it best fructifies.
Which brings us back to those certain intellectual circles. As they cry, along with Wolfie Smith, "Power to the People", they seem incapable of realising that it is those very competitive markets they so disdain which do precisely that. Which is why we should have more of them of course.